Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Smoky Madison Square Park

These past weeks have been very important for me with respect to immerging myself in America’s summer food culture. First there was the Governor Island Five Boro PicNYC, then my vacation in St-Maarten, where I surprisingly got to eat more American than Caribbean dishes (!!!), and finally, this past weekend, the very smoky Madison Square Park Big Apple Barbecue Block Party.

It was a quiet weekend for us; back from a vacation, Martin and I were a little disconnected from Manhattan’s schedule of summer events and didn’t know what to do on Sunday. Partly intrigued and partly attracted by the strong smell of ribs, sausage and pulled pork that was haunting the city – nevermind that email we received promoting the Block Party –, we decided, with enthusiasm, to attend the urban barbecue.

What I was expecting to be a small local party was in reality a massively attended festival celebrating America’s authentic culinary and musical traditions. It featured live performances from emerging and established rock, blues and soul artists and some of the country’s most renowned BBQ pitmasters, which is, I learned very recently, the name given to barbecue authorities.

Madison Square Park as well as the streets surrounding it were not only crowded with thousands of people waiting in line, eager for spicy southern sauces, they were also filled with giant homemade smokers, barbecues and meat– I’m not a veggie but the sight of entire pigs roasting on barbecues was a little too much for me. The area was also occupied by an impressive cloud of smoke that was seriously heating up the area, on a day that was already in
the 80’s.

The “not crazy about meat” foodie that I am – I know this is a contradiction in itself – had a pulled pork sandwich, which was good but seriously surpassed by the deliciously creamy and spicy baked beans that were accompanying it. The only item missing for me was the traditional cheese macaroni that I had previously discovered in St-Maarten; I didn’t see anything similar to it at the barbecue.

What I appreciated the most about the Block party was having the chance to see renowned pitmasters at work. They were so well organized and efficient – considering that they had to prepare a huge quantity of food; and they all had the look I imagined of serious BBQ masters (see pictures)!

The Big Apple Barbecue Block Party takes place once a year in June in Madison Square Park and its surrounding streets. Attending the event was free this year and food could be purchased for 8$ a plate. 

Street Grub Everyday has a post about the event including other good pictures if you are interested in seeing more. There is even a photo of Martin and me (I was wearing a white hat and my gorgeous husband had a striped polo on)!

What is your favorite American BBQ dish?


  1. Awesome post. I highly recommend the parking lot of a New York Giants football game to witness the great American tradition of tailgating. Some very creative things going on before and after each game. That's what some of these photo's reminded me of. Peace!

  2. Hi George! Thanks for the suggestion; I'm sure my husband will be crazy about this idea. I tried a tailgate one day in Québec City and it was a lot of fun. But it was probably nothing compared to here! I'll definitely have to go ;) Have a great weekend!